Vote Planned for West Water Street Development Project

Posted January 27, 2012

The Elmira City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed plan at its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

 Downtown Elmira Eyes New Development 
By Jenelle Tortorella, WETM

Elmira – A Queens-based developer wants to put apartments and commercial space in three vacant buildings in downtown Elmira. The Marvin, Harold’s and Rosenbaum buildings were targeted for demolition, but there may now be another option.
The 100-block of West Water Street may be getting a makeover soon.

Victory LLC, which is owned by The Harmony Group, proposed plans to develop the old Marvin, Harold’s and Rosenbaum buildings into apartments, commercial and retail space.

For local businesses, more activity in Downtown Elmira could mean more money.

“I think anything would be positive that would ‘fit’ Downtown,” said New York Sports and Fitness Owner John Maio. “I know the City’s been smart on what they’re putting down here, trying to compliment other businesses.”

“If we can get 25 apartments at market rate, we’re bringing in people with expendable income and those incomes then are used in the community,” said Dennis Hogan, who is the general manager for The Harmony Group.

The new plans come after other developers backed out of similar projects; now, Victory LLC is working to determine if the buildings can be refurbished.

The developer is planning to clean out the buildings and then determine if the apartments and retail space can be created in the existing buildings. If not, the buildings will have to be demolished.

So far, Victory officials say Rosenbaum’s is in good enough shape to refurbish; they’ll be inspecting the other buildings this week.

If approved, the City will sell the buildings for just $1. The $2.3 million Restore New York Grant the state awarded Elmira in 2008 to redevelop the buildings would be transferred in the sale and go toward the project.

Damomics owner Ron Friedman, whose building is next to these buildings, said he’s in favor of the project if it starts immediately.

(For full story, visit

Elmira West Water Street Redevelopment Proposal to Get Closer Look
By Ray Finger, The Star-Gazette

Some cleanup is anticipated to begin Friday (1/27) to determine whether the former Harold's and Marvin's buildings in downtown Elmira are sound enough to rehabilitate.

Developer Uri Kaufman of Long Island hopes to turn those two properties on West Water Street, along with the former Rosenbaum's building, into loft apartments and commercial space.

On-site pre-kindergarten and day care are possible if the community decides those are things it wants, said Dennis Hogan, who works for Kaufman and is general manager of The Harmony Group, an umbrella organization that oversees such projects in upstate New York.

"We have a template. Rehabilitating these old properties is what we do," Hogan said. "You don't see a lot of these done because of the hurdles that it takes to get through this."

Hogan told Elmira City Council Thursday (1/26) about plans for the downtown buildings, and about The Lofts at Harmony Mills, a successful project in Cohoes.

That Albany-area project transformed a vacant cotton mill into loft apartments renting for $1,000 to $2,700 a month, depending on the number of bedrooms, square footage, which floor they are on and whether or not they face the Mohawk River, he said.

The rent includes telephone, Internet and cable TV service, Hogan said. "All you pay for is gas and electric."

Following Thursday's council workshop, he was to meet with Elise Johnson-Schmidt and Associates, preservation architects in Corning, to review designs created earlier for the Water Street buildings that possibly could be used, as long as they come close to fitting their template for apartments, he said. That could expedite the process threefold, he said.

"This section of Water Street has really stymied us," Mayor Susan Skidmore said. "We've had lots of starters, and that's as far as we've got, so we're really excited about this."

The goal is to preserve all three of the structures, Hogan said. Rosenbaum's has been examined and was determined to be OK, but he plans to go into Marvin's and Harold's on Friday with an engineer to look at areas they didn't have access to before to see if each building can be restored, he said.

If all of the buildings are viable, work will be done on all three at the same time, he said.

"We'll go in, we'll clean at the same time, we'll remediate at the same time. I know there are some environmental issues. We'll take care of it. It's part of the process," he said. "From there, we'll start our rehabilitation."

(For full story, visit 

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